From the dream team creators of CROWN: AN ODE TO THE FRESH CUT comes I AM EVERY GOOD THING-- a meditation on the wondrous, multi-faceted greatness of Barnes' own 4 young boys and James' 2 young children that echoes affirmation and inspiration for children everywhere, but especially for Black boys. There's something special about picture books that are able to capture the assuredness, joy and community covering that comes with being a young Black boy in this world and I jump for joy when I discover books that capture this as poignantly and vividly as this one does-- that acknowledges the ways in which Black boys are sometimes afraid but nonetheless champions and never not triumphant and never not capable of joy. I am beyond excited to add this to my (err-- I mean, my family's) picture book collection, at providing my own 2 young sons with an incredible book that encourages them to know that they too are always-- and forever will be-- every good thing.
YOU BE MOMMY BY KARLA CLARK
It's been quite some time! Trying to survive the apocalyptic-esque curveballs 2020 continues to throw our way is a feat in and of itself, but doing so while actively working to keep small children happy, entertained, safe and healthy (you know... alive) is truly one for the books. I'm increasingly in awe of how utterly exhausted and overwhelmed I can feel while also simultaneously feeling incredibly overjoyed to have my little ones so close during this time. It's a lot to handle and on any given day, my feelings can oscillate between sheer terror and sheer joy at the task of caring for small children and at times, wishing you could switch roles and get some of the TLC in return. Enter YOU BE MOMMY by Karla Clark and gorgeously illustrated by Zoe Persico. This wonderful picture book encapsulates it all-- the fall-flat-on-your-face exhaustion, the endless night-time circling and tasking, the desire to curl up and have someone put you to sleep, all in an effort to capture the beautiful ways in which our children are listening and watching and caring for us all along-- but mostly when they finally fall asleep themselves ;) Crisp rhymes, jaw-dropping uses of color and a humorous plot twist will make this charming picture book an all too easy nightly re-read for little ones and big ones alike.
WHY? by Adam Rex
No other book better summarizes life with a 3 1/2 year old. As anyone will tell you, "Why?" is peppered into every other utterance a toddler could possibly imagine to make, after a while morphing into an obnoxious series of litanies that are seemingly impossible to escape! In WHY, a would-be criminal mastermind meets his match in a high-spirited little girl who questions his every move and motive, leading our so-called antagonist down a rabbit-hole of self-reflection that leads to hilariously charming results. A must-read for anyone in need of a good laugh and a strong reminder that once again, children win!
SATURDAY by Oge Mora
Such a marvelous and whimsical tale of a mother-daughter duo whose routine Saturday magic is interrupted by obstacle after obstacle! SATURDAY is such an adorable story that showcases the wondrous ways in which we celebrate our non-working, non-schooling days with our families and the ways in which we weather temporary setbacks together!
San Francisco International Airport!
More and more, diverse stories are becoming the norm—disrupting the canon, beautifying the canon—and no longer a trend. A true re-imagination that reflects alternative narratives, allowing more children to see themselves reflected in the stories so prominently featured in stores and window fronts.
There isn't a book on the market that captures the pain of colorism better that Lupita Nyong'o's SULWE. As a young girl struggles to come to terms with her beauty in a world that makes her feel anything but beautiful, we come to terms with the ugly ways in which we all have perpetuated beauty qualifications in ways that have exalted some and traumatized others. I'm so very impressed with how this picture book, gorgeously illustrated by the phenomenal Vashti Harrison, captures the essence of this issue while also championing the beauty of Blackness, especially in our young Black girls.
There is a very special place in my heart for picture books that endeavor to make extremely dark and sad topics accessible for children. THE PRESIDENT SANG AMAZING GRACE did just that, bringing to life the senseless Charleston Church Shooting and illuminating President Obama's grace and leadership during that time. We are living in such perilous times and with the advent of technology and communication, younger and younger children are being exposed to the dark realities of the world at a much higher rate than I imagine they were in the past. It's so very important that we acknowledge this and ensure that we are as honest with children as possible. They will appreciate us for it and we will be a better world if we are committed to not only naming our realities, but working together to change them.
I love re-discovering classics and introducing them to my sons (I'm also particularly excited that my youngest won't be able to destroy this, considering it's a board book!) This 1964 classic captures a little boy's desire to learn a new skill, accompanied by his trusted pal. I can't help but to think about how ahead of its time this book was, featuring a little Black boy and his Black family in a non-"exceptional" sort of way that is more likely to be promoted than a book chronicling the everyday magic of childhood. This book is such a spectacular addition to any library!
I thought I died and went to picture book Heaven the first time I saw this book in stores. I mean, look at the cover! What did we do to deserve such a fearless and fabulous Tooth Fairy Icon? The character development in just the first few pages was INSANE—I felt like I really knew Tallulah and that she was someone I wanted to grab lunch with, someone who was crystal clear about who she was and could help me attain the same! The re-imagining of a board room was insanely powerful and hilarious but it was a very beautiful encounter with a young child that really showcased Tallulah's phenomenal spirit and heart. A must-read for any child or adult looking to not only laugh, but also be reminded that we all have a confident, bad ass inner BOSS inside of us all!
BIG BOYS CRY by Jonty Howley
I was immediately drawn to the title and cover but the prose blew me away! This picture book captures the beauty of allowing boys and men to feel what they feel and express how they need to, dismantling traditional notions that somehow, boys and men aren't allowed to cry. As I think about how I want to raise my sons, about how I want them to feel and process and navigate this world in a way that is true to how they feel and what they believe in, I hold this book near and dear to my heart. For families and educators everywhere seeking a powerful text that teaches everyone that our emotions and the expression thereof is important and valid, this is the picture book for you!